4 top student-athletes recognized

4 top student-athletes recognized

From left, Quakertown Community High School student-athletes are Nathaniel Barnes, Morgan Small, Chris Brady and Nikki Vanelli.

By Gary Weckselblatt

Four Quakertown Community High School seniors who will be playing varsity sports at the college level next year were recognized as"true student-athletes" during a College Signing Ceremony on March 2.

Athletic director Sylvia Kalazs said the students have combined to take 16 Advancement Placement, honors and college courses this year.

The students are Nathaniel Barnes, Chris Brady, Morgan Small and Nikki Vanelli. Nat plans to play baseball at Elizabethtown College; Chris, lacrosse at Cabrini University; Morgan, soccer at Clark University; and Nikki, softball at Salve Regina University.

Their high school coaches spoke eloquently about the leadership qualities of each student.

Morgan, a goalkeeper, helped the Panthers to the"best season in the history of the program," coach Mike Koch said. She had 12 shutouts -- two in the playoffs -- in 22 games. One was a postseason shootout victory against archrival Pennridge.

Koch described her as an"incredibly dedicated, talented athlete. … You led your team to the biggest victory ever."

Nikki, who plays third base,"has done incredible things," said coach Ray Fox, who added that she has"a very strong arm and a very strong bat. ...She will be an extremely successful college player."

Travis Eckler, the first-year boys lacrosse coach, said Chris, his goalie, is so talented"he could have gone anywhere he wanted to go. He' s a great kid and I look forward to coaching him this year."

Jon Pallone, Quakertown' s baseball coach, said Nat has time and again "come up with the big play," and called him"a strong student who I can count on in the classroom and on the field."

Nat plans to study environmental engineering at Elizabethtown. Nikki, similarly, said she is considering environmental science.

Morgan has her eye on political science and, eventually, graduate school, while Chris is looking at a degree in secondary education.

Gary Weckselblatt, director of communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.

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